Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe, and disabling mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. It is a complex, long-term illness, affecting approximately 1-2% of the population with an estimated $62.7 billion economic burden in the United States.

Although schizophrenia can occur at any age, the average age of onset tends to be in the late teens to early 20s for men, and the late 20s or early 30s for women. People with schizophrenia can suffer from hallucinations, delusions, thought disorders, and cognitive symptoms such as poor executive functioning, memory problems, and trouble focusing or paying attention. While genetic factors do play a part in determining the likelihood of developing schizophrenia, scientists think that interactions between genes and aspects of the individual’s environment are necessary for the development of the illness. These factors include exposure to viruses, malnutrition before birth, problems during birth, cannabis, and psychosocial factors. Because the causes of schizophrenia are still unknown, antipsychotic medications and psychosocial therapy treatments are used to manage and eliminate/reduce symptoms of the disease.

A group of researchers in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurobiology, including Drs. James Meador-Woodruff, Adrienne Lahti, Rosalinda Roberts, Kazu Nakazawa, Nina Kraguljac, and Lynn Dobrunz lead projects investigating the neurobiology of schizophrenia and related disorders, their treatment and prevention.